“Interim Housing”

“Interim Housing” introduces a new term for alternative responses to the needs of people who are homeless - one that is intentionally far wider in scope, and also less stigmatising than the older term 'shelter'.

With this shift comes a recognition of the potential value of a wider range of constructive responses, and the possibilities of far greater attention, with this wider vocabulary, to what works, when, and for whom; and the potential for improvement.


What's in a name?

The HUD guidance states from the beginning : 'We have purposefully chosen to entitle this project and this document “Reimagining Interim Housing” but want to make the meaning and intentions behind the term “interim housing” clear.

'We have received considerable guidance from people with lived expertise and experiences of homelessness about the stigmatizing and traumatizing impacts of language in current usage within homelessness response systems, including the term “emergency shelter.”  Based upon that guidance, we have chosen to largely avoid the term “emergency shelter” within this document.'

'Instead, we have chosen to refer to “interim housing” or, less frequently, to “sheltering people.”

'The term “interim housing” is not meant to refer to one specific program model. Rather, the term is meant to refer to a full range of shorter-term, crisis options for temporary accommodations which may currently be referred to by a variety of terms: congregate or non-congregate emergency shelter; navigation centers; bridge housing; transitional housing; or other models or terms.

'The term “interim housing” is also not meant to imply that people who are staying in such programs have ended their experiences of homelessness. People in interim housing programs of any type are still experiencing homelessness, and interim housing programs alone cannot end homelessness within our communities.

'We recognize that it will take time to shift language usage consistently and that language will likely continue to evolve as we strive to reimagine and transform our approaches. We also know that some programs may have to use specific terms for their programs or models based upon funding sources’ eligibility requirements, regulations, or for other reasons. In implementing transformation efforts, we encourage people to use the terms that makes the most sense locally, while also listening to and following the guidance and preferences of people with lived expertise within your community.'

Other key issues, pages and documents

(For the full documentation and further links on Re-imagining shelter' : HERE)

  • Reimagining Interim Housing  - Stages and Action Areas for Transforming Approaches to Sheltering People Experiencing Homelessness : HERE
  • Reimagining Interim Housing (supplement): tools for strengthening current Interim Housing programmes and services : HERE
  • Responding to the Growing Crisis of Unsheltered Homelessness and Encampments : HERE
  • Encampments : HERE
  • Safe Havens; HUD definition and conditions for renewal of HUD funding : HERE
  • Assistance Animals and Fair Housing - Navigating Reasonable Accommodations : HERE

'One HUD, for all' (2022-26 strategic plan : HERE

Scaling Up Online Tools to End Homelessness : HERE